Greetings to everybody interested in my person. I am quite a normal guy, but my body does not obey my brain’s commands very well and that can easily be noticed, too.
I was born as a completely healthy baby back in Soviet Estonia. However, fate had different plans for me as a day later it was established that I had rhesus conflict. It would have been fine if they had had compatible blood for transfusion at hand, but they had not. Neither had they car to fetch it. By the time I finally received the blood transfusion the damage to my brain was already unrecoverable. Hence, I cannot walk and I lack fine motor skills.
The name of my so-called “disease” is cerebral palsy. Do I feel sick? No, not at all. I do not have fever or any other symptoms. My balance is bad, so I cannot stand or walk without another person’s support, but at home I move freely on my knees. I use a wheelchair outside the home. Unfortunately, I cannot express myself by speaking either. To alleviate this shortcoming, I try to use text-to-speech synthesis.
I have learned to do everything with my toes as I cannot use my hands. I paint with a brush between my toes, hit computer and mobile phone keys with my toe, drive my wheelchair. For me it is normal to use my feet in everyday tasks.
I have always liked drawing. As a child I tried to draw with hand. I traced large dog-like creatures with thick felt-tip pens. I also liked to draw my toys. I put a pencil between my toes when I heard that there are people who have learned to use their feet to compensate for their disabilities.
But the people of Estonia learned about me when I started printing graphics [L], i.e. images consisting of letters, with a fairly ordinary mechanical printing press. My printed Leopolds, Äpu, Postikanas and other characters were well-known among handicraft enthusiasts, because my prints were good for embroidering in cross stitches and knitting. My first solo exhibitions consisted only of prints.
I started painting in early 90s. With the help of good friends, I managed to become a member of the World Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists [L] in 1993. I send all my finished paintings and drawings to Switzerland, where they are exhibited and selected for making postcards, calendars and other prints.
Art is my job and, at the same time, it also provides an opportunity to share my colorful world with other people. Working with brushes soothes my soul and helps me to create a more positive world around me.
Art allows me to express myself in the language of colors. Recently, when looking at my own works, I began feeling as if they were not made by myself. I do not want to brag, but in general I like the feeling of creating a new world with colors; I like to think about the effect of colors. It is pleasant to depict the sea, flowers, stones. I can paint several rocks a day. All this is very nice and invigorating.
Apart from the world of art, I also have tried to investigate into the soul of computers. I started with a school computer Juku and then it just went on.
I never have studied computer science at school or university. I have completed some e-courses, but most of my knowledge has been acquired through self-study. At first I have used the trial-and-error method, but later I have got aid from the bottomless and wide world of Internet. Actually, I like to study on my own account, even though it is quite difficult sometimes. But as they say, the sleeping fox catches no chickens. So, maybe I know a little bit about everything, maybe just as much as I need myself. But I do not get into trouble very easily and I share my knowledge with others and guide those in need. I also develop Estonian text-to-speech synthesis [L] using the engine programmed by the Estonian Language Institute.
I also have conducted radio broadcasts “Foot Worker knows and thinks” for the internet radio Muusikamoos. This work was a unique experiment as I have not heard of anyone making a radio broadcast with the aid of speech synthesis. You can listen to the broadcasts on my blog [L].
I have a lot of interests and so it is difficult to feel bored. There always is a work in progress or an interesting idea to implement. All this attracts me very much and does not let me be idle.
My life is actually very interesting. I do things that fascinate me. I paint a rock in the sea and try to do this so that other people would not see a dark spot of paint instead of a rock. Or I write computer programs that render other people’s work easier. Programming is actually a very creative activity and very rigorous, too. It is interesting to solve problems of how to depict an object while painting or to make the computer do what I expect from it. All this is a great art that must be constantly learned and also shared with others.
I work as a specialist in one of the largest financial institutions in Estonia. My job is to design all kinds of documents and advertisements.
I also have family. Namely, in 2015, I met my future wife on an Asian dating site. Yes, it is quite a story how a girl from the Philippines, far behind the seas and mountains, comes with great difficulty to cold Estonia and marries a man in wheelchair. Yet it happened so that in February 2016, exactly on my birthday, a plane landed at the Tallinn airport, and Marilou got out of it. In April, we already got married.
Looking back, it all looks like a beautiful fairy tale, where all kinds of bureaucracy, problems with visas and documents are overcome by love – by a love that knows no bounds.
And another big miracle happened when in the beginning of 2019 we have got a son, Lucas Nikolas. This made my biggest dream come true.
I live with my little family in Tallinn.
Throughout my colorful life, I have had one motto – Life is for living, not whining!